Choosing a Daypack for Traveling – Best Daypacks for Travel & More

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Searching for the best daypacks for travel can take some time. After all, there are so many great travel daypacks now that it’s hard to know which one will be best for you. For example, are you looking for the best daypack for travel in Europe during the winter? That might be different from the best travel daypack for backpacking through Southeast Asia. Here are some tips for choosing a daypack for traveling or daily life

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Best Daypacks for Travel & More

It used to be easier to choose a daypack for traveling. I mean, there were like a dozen to choose from, right? And most of them had the same features, the same pocket design, and the same four or five colors. Nowadays, the best travel daypack may be different for everyone. For example, one daypack for travel may have specialized features for hiking, such as a reservoir sleeve and clips for a hiking pole. In contrast, an different travel daypack might be designed for gadgets, laptops and all the wires that come with them.

Choosing your best daypack for travel depends a lot on where you’re going and how you’ll use it. That said, I think that the best daypacks for travel are generally small, lightweight and versatile. That means that some of the best daypacks for hiking can also be used for a holiday in Spain. Or the best laptop bag can also make great carry-on luggage for a month in Chiang Mai.

In the post below, I break down some of the best daypacks for women, men, and children. But before that, let’s look at the features to look for in a travel-ready daypack.

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Best Daypacks for Travel

The best daypacks for travel vary person to person — traveler to traveler. For example, the best daypacks for travel with a laptop might be different than the best daypacks for travel that involves camping and hiking. That’s why I’ve divided up the best daypacks below into a variety of subsections.

Best Daypacks for Hiking

These small backpacks are designed for hiking, but also make some of the best daypacks for traveling as well. IN fact, many of the features that make them great for the trail (lightweight, waterproof, etc) make them great for the road as well.

Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack

Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack

Osprey makes some of the best daypacks in the business. With that in mind, consider the Daylite, one of the top daypacks for traveling thanks to its utility and lightweight.

You get a hip strap and a sternum strap. And like most Osprey packs, there’s a safety whistle built into the sternum strap. There’s also an inside pocket for a water pack or other important items. Exterior compression straps keep everything stable and close to your body. The Daylite packs down small and fits easily into many larger bags for later use

Check Price: Osprey Packs Daylite Daypack

Deuter Airlite 22 Ultralight Day Hiking Backpack

Deuter Airlite 22 Ultralight Day Hiking Backpack

Originally designed for hiking, the Deuter Airlite 22 is also one of the best daypacks for traveling in rough and wet terrain. The zippers and ripstop fabric are water resistant. If that’s not enough, the built-in rain cover provides an extra layer of protection.

It has a flexible steel frame to help with ventilation on your back. That means it doesn’t pack down as small as some of the typical daypacks for traveling listed here. Yet if you plan to cover some hard territory then this is one of the best daypacks for you. The shoulder straps are ventilated as well, and I like the pockets in the waist strap.

Check Price: Deuter Airlite 22 Ultralight Day Hiking Backpack

Gregory Inertia Day Hiking Backpack

Gregory Day Hiking Backpack

If you a bag for long hikes or hot climates, the Speed Lite 20 is your best travel daypack. The Inertia comes durable and well-ventilated in the back and shoulder straps. A 3-liter water reservoir comes included here, but two stretch-mesh side pockets can hold water bottles if you prefer. The back stretch-mesh pocket is secure and gives you quick access to go-to items like maps and an extra later.

Check Price: Gregory Inertia Day Hiking Backpack

Best Daypacks with a Laptop Sleeve

Who doesn’t travel with a laptop or tablet nowadays? Well, not everyone. Indeed, and not everyone wants to carry their computer with them all the time (me included). That said, for many travelers, any daypack for traveling much have a place for electronics. Here are a few of our favorites.

Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack

Buying Guide for Best Travel Backpacks

The Daylite Plus also makes our list of best daypacks for traveling thanks to extra storage space and versatility. Like the smaller Daylite model, the Daylite Plus has stowaway straps. These make it easy to carry on either your shoulders or in your hand. Yet the Daylite carries seven liters more than its predecessor and has more advanced storage.

For example, the padded inside pocket holds up to a 15-inch laptop. I also like what Osprey calls a “shove-it” pocket on the exterior. It’s a great spot for quick-access items like maps, a travel jacket or umbrella. The Daylite Plus can attach to several larger Osprey backpacks. This great 2-in-1 feature is a great advantage for backpackers.

Check Price: Osprey Packs Daylite Plus Daypack

Osprey Packs Nebula Daypack

Osprey Packs Nebula Daypack

If you want to stick with Osprey but need something bigger, then this is the best travel daypack for you. You get the same Osprey level of design and quality, but with more features and carrying capacity. The Nebula has a TSA-approved laptop sleeve, as well as a nice “shove-it” pocket with a clip to hold it in place. It stands up on its own, which is nice when standing in lines at the airport. This is a 34-liter bag, so it holds a lot more than most of the travel daypacks listed here. Yet it can still fit under an airline seat when not stuffed to capacity.

Check Price: Osprey Packs Nebula Daypack

The North Face Recon Backpack

The North Face Recon Backpack

This 30-liter laptop bag from Northface makes the list of best daypacks for travel thanks to comfort and pocket design. I like the side pockets for water bottles and umbrellas, as well as the lined sunglass pocket for easy access. The organizer pocket is also great for travel documents. The back and shoulder padding is quite good for a travel daypack in this price range. And despite being a 30-liter travel daypack with a laptop sleeve, it still flattens out nicely if you want to store it.

Check Price: The North Face Recon Backpack

The North Face Unisex Vault Backpack

The North Face Unisex Vault Backpack

Slightly smaller than the Recon Daypack mentioned above, the Northface Vault makes the best daypacks list for comfort and sheer utility. We like the injection-molded shoulder straps and padded mesh back. Also nice is the padded top handle making it comfortable in your hand and on your shoulders. The laptop sleeve is also well-padded and fleece lined. Two nice side mesh pockets hold water bottles securely.

Check Price: The North Face Unisex Vault Backpack

Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack

Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack

Another sleek and lightweight daypack for traveling or hiking. Unlike the Airlite 22 above, the Speed Lite has a thin waist strap that is detachable. There’s only a minimal wire frame as well, which means it can also pack smaller. There is one main pocket with a U-shaped zipper and a sleeve to put a tablet, a small laptop or hydration pack (not included). Top stash pocket for quick access items (ie key clip). Stretchy side pockets can hold smaller water bottles.

Check Price: Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack

Gregory Compass 30 Travel Backpack

Gregory Mountain Products Day Hiking Backpack

Unlike most of the best daypacks for travel listed here, the Gregory Compass 30 is a travel day pack that is both backpack and duffel bag. Instead of top-loading like most of the daypacks for travel here, the Compass 30 opens from the side and back. Padded sleeves fit your laptop and tablet.

Check Price: Gregory Day Hiking Backpack

Fjallraven – Kanken Classic Backpack for Everyday

Fjallraven - Kanken Mini Classic Backpack for Everyday

Changing little since it was first designed in the late ‘70s, the Kanken was first made for schoolchildren in Sweden. Today it remains one of the best schoolbags and best daypacks for travel. The design is simple yet functional. For example, two side pockets hold water bottles, while a back zippered pocket holds quick access items. The large main pocket has a sleeve that was first designed for a seating pad (included). But now it can hold up to a 15-inch laptop. A great daypack for travel with kids, but adjustable for adults as well.

Check Price: Fjallraven – Kanken Classic Backpack for Everyday

Best Daypacks for Kids

Many of the best daypacks mentioned above will fit a teen or maybe even a younger child. That said, if you’re looking for daypacks designed for children, then here are a few we recommend.

Deuter Junior Kid’s Backpack

Deuter Junior Kid's Backpack

Well ventilated and comfortable for long walks, Deuter’s Junior-sized daypack for traveling does well on the road. Padded shoulder straps and a sternum clip mean kids can comfortably carry a heavy load. Two side water bottle pockets mean they stay hydrated. Compression straps keep everything tightly packed or simply keep a jacket handy.

Check Price: Deuter Junior Kid’s Backpack

Osprey Packs Koby Daypack

Osprey Packs Koby Daypack

Osprey is known for some of the best daypacks for traveling adults. But they also make some of the best daypacks for traveling kids, too. The Koby Daypack has good side pockets for water bottles, as well as a front stretch pocket to hold a hat or swimsuit. There’s also a lined sunglasses pocket and a padded sleeve for electronics.

Check Price: Osprey Packs Koby Daypack

JanSport Superbreak Backpack Ultralight

JanSport Superbreak Backpack Ultralight

Back to basics here for Jansport. Makers of the classic back-to-school backpack, Jansport is the best travel daypack for kids who don’t need specialized pockets or tactical features. It’s a 25-liter daypack with two main compartments. The main storage area and a secondary zippered pocket for smaller items. It’s 600-denier polyester which means it’s tough, water resistant and collapsible.

Check Price: JanSport Superbreak Backpack Ultralight

Best Packable Daypacks for Travel

If you’re really packing light or planning to travel carry on only, then packable daypacks are a great way to go. This kind of travel daypack fold into a small pocket and weighs almost nothing. That way it fits easily onto any other bag or luggage you have. The drawback? Most packable daypacks have very little padding and tend to be less comfortable after prolonged use.

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

Weighing less than 4 ounces, Osprey’s Ultralight stuff pack is an excellent daypack for traveling light. It folds up into its own carrying case smaller than my fist. It has a side pocket but no sternum strap. Holds 18 liters.

Check Price: Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

Eddie Bauer Unisex-Adult Stowaway Packable 20L Daypack

Eddie Bauer Stowaway Packable Daypack

This 20-liter daypack for traveling light is made from durable 200-denier ripstop fabric. It’s sturdier than the Osprey and had nicer side stretch pockets for water bottles. Yet it’s a little heavier and larger as well. It folds in on itself and into a bag about the size of a hamburger.

Check Price: Eddie Bauer Unisex-Adult Stowaway Packable 20L Daypack

Outlander Packable Handy Lightweight Travel Hiking Backpack

Outlander Packable Travel Hiking Backpack

This 35-liter collapsible backpack is made from water-resistant nylon. It holds a lot more and has more compartmentalization, yet only weighs 7 ounces. On the other hand, it doesn’t fold down as small as the other foldable daypacks for traveling cited here. Also comes with a carabiner, but that shouldn’t be the deal-maker.

Check Price: Outlander Packable Handy Lightweight Travel Hiking Backpack

Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack

Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack

This 20-liter stowable daypack is made from water/tear-resistant nylon. There are two inside zipper pockets and one exterior pocket for quick-access items. Two side mesh bottle pockets as well. All this and it weighs less than 7 ounces and fold up to the size of a peanut butter sandwich.

Check Price: Gonex Ultralight Handy Travel Backpack

Choosing a Daypack for Traveling – Features of the Best Daypacks for Travel

Each daypack for travel has its own special set of features, but many of the best daypacks share these in common. Here are a few of the features to look for when choosing a daypack for traveling.

Size, Shape & Weight

The best daypacks for travel should be small and light enough to wear all day. Ideally, they should also be narrow on your back for more freedom of movement. Each item on my best travel daypack list below is under 35 liters. Many are even just 20 liters.

Packability

You’re probably not going to wear this pack all the time. Therefore it’s nice to know that it can fold up or pack down into any larger suitcase or backpack you’re taking along. Otherwise, you’re stuck holding it even when you’re in transit. Most of the best daypacks for traveling can roll up, flatten out or fold in on themselves in order to fit into larger luggage.

Outer Straps, Clips & Loops

If the best daypack for travel may be small and have limited storage, but they also provide exterior ways to extend their capacity. For example, compression straps let you carry anything for a fleece sweater to a yoga mat. Tripods, too. Webbing loops and Daisy Chains let you hook additional things to the outside, such as a mug or a pair of boots. I clip a few carabiners to the outside so I can always hook something on or even hand my pack from a fence or pole.

Then there are chest straps and waist straps. These are there to help distribute the weight of a bag. They’re great if you’re bag is large and heavy, and/or you plan to hike for miles with it on. But if your bag is small and light, then look for travel daypacks without a waist strap or a removable or stowable one.

Inner Sleeve

Most of the best lightweight daypacks also have a padded sleeve in their interior. Sometimes this is designed for a reservoir pack, which is great for staying hydrated on the trail. Other times the sleeve is designed to hold a tablet or laptop. Usually, however, it works for both…but not at the same time, of course.

Side Water Bottle Pockets

For my personal daypack for traveling, I think it’s important to have a place for water. I don’t use the water bags, so that means I want a place to hold a water bottle. Not all daypacks have them, and some that do have very narrow pockets that are wide enough for a typical PET bottle. Do you carry your own bottle or want something that can accommodate larger canisters? If so, then check the specs of best travel daypack of your choice.

Quick Access Pocket

Most of the best daypacks for travel have some exterior pocket for go-to items like maps, keys or a raincoat. They’re usually easy to open and close, using materials like velcro, clips or elastic mesh.

Rugged, Waterproof Material

A daypack for traveling must be ready for the elements. Rain and other forces of nature shouldn’t have access to your things that easily. The best travel daypacks are made from rugged, rip-stop fabrics. Some are coated with water-resistant material, as well.

Comfort and Ventilation

The best daypack for traveling is only as good as how long you’re willing to wear it. That’s why the best daypacks tend to have well-padded straps and good ventilation? The area where your back touches the pack may have special material or space that helps your skin breathe.

Reflective Elements

This isn’t the most important element of the best daypacks for travel but is a nice addition. Reflective elements on the front and back ensure that cars can see you after dark. This is especially important when traveling with kids.

A Good Warranty

If buy a daypack for traveling, then it’s nice to know that maker stands by their product. Many of the best daypacks for travel come with a lifetime guarantee, but not all of them. Some are for six months or a year. Either way, it’s important to check the warranty before buying.

What’s the Best Travel Daypack for You?

Did you find your best daypack for travel here? Which one? Or what features are you looking for?

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you buy the best daypack for travel from the list above using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find the best travel daypack for you. 

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